October 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my October TBR post, I said that this month was ALLLLL about the thrillers. And it totally was. I ended up reading 15 books in October, 12 of which were mystery/thrillers, and 12 of which I’m predicting could end up on the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery & Thriller nominee list (see those predictions here). I’m super proud of meeting my reading goals this month and pleasantly surprised with how many books I loved – I’d definitely say I found myself some new favorite thrillers this month!

I typically wrap up my reading in chronological order of how I read the books, but this time I think I will start with all of my thrillers, ordered from favorite to least favorite, and then into the non-thrillers at the end.

This month’s quick stats:
15 books (4 audiobooks)
3,657 pages
15 authors (8 female)
1 nonfiction | 14 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
92 books (19 audiobooks)
23,489 pages
86 authors (45 female)
24 nonfiction | 68 fiction

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 314
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman named Lowen who is hired as a writer to complete the remaining books in a series started by a famous author, Verity Crawford, who suffered an accident that has left her unable to finish her work. In order to perform this job, Lowen agrees to move into the Crawford household for a short period in order to sort through Verity’s office to find any notes on the series that may have been previously prepared. Spending so much time in Verity’s home and going through her things, Lowen starts to uncover much more about Verity than she ever bargained for – and that’s really all I want to say about the plot!

My Thoughts: I was so, so, so pleasantly surprised by this book – I couldn’t put it down! It feels weird to say that I enjoyed reading it, because some parts are so messed up that enjoyment is not quite the right word, but I was completely immersed. Everything from the basic plot to the characters to the pacing I thought was done perfectly, and I personally loved the ending. I do consider it to be a thriller and think it’s a little odd that people are arguing that it’s not… but as a Colleen Hoover rookie I can’t speak to how different it is from her other books. All I can say is that I was on the edge of my seat reading this book and if Colleen Hoover wants to continue dabbling in the thriller world, I will continue to read.

Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family as a nanny caring for the three children living at home. The story is actually told in letter-form, after-the-fact, as it is known by the reader that Rowan has been charged for the murder of one of the children, and she is recounting the experience from the beginning to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts: I’m sure most people at this point have heard of this book and all of the hype that surrounds it – so many book bloggers and Booktubers are calling it the perfect thriller, and I actually would have to agree. The writing and atmosphere of this book are so well done, I truly did not know which direction the story was headed and what the solution to the mystery was going to end up being. I listened to the audiobook and would highly recommend – not only did it help immerse me fully into the story, it also helped me speed through the book as quickly as possible since I was so interested to get to the ending!

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 370
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This is the second thriller novel written by Riley Sager, and it follows young woman Emma as she returns to the same summer camp that she last attended when she was 15 years old. Her first time at the camp, Emma’s three bunkmates went missing, were never found, and caused the camp to be shut down due to safety concerns for the campers. 15 years later, the camp is reopening and Emma goes back as an instructor with hopes of getting closure for her three friends lost all those years ago.

My Thoughts: I feel like this book has been SEVERELY underhyped compared to Riley Sager’s other two thrillers, and I have to say that this one is by far my favorite. I absolutely loved the fun and creepy setting of the summer camp and thought that the mystery, twists, and reveals were smart and ultimately shocking – at least to me. I felt fully invested in the story and characters and was itching to get to the end so I could get some answers. Although there was one MAJOR plot hole that I noticed (would love to discuss with others that have read it 😊), I honestly enjoyed the book so much that I’m willing to overlook it and still give it a 5-star rating.

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller, Riley Sager’s latest release, follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan for six weeks. Although the apartment building is creepy and the job comes with some odd ground rules, the pay is so good that Jules can’t possibly turn the opportunity down. Soon after starting, however, she starts to notice weird things about the apartment and other tenants in the building and questions whether the arrangement is too good to be true.

My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller that actually lived up to the hype for me. The atmosphere was just as creepy and intriguing as everyone has said, and I think the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Unfortunately, my reading experience was tainted JUST SLIGHTLY due to the fact that I knowingly spoiled the ending for myself before picking the book up. I think the ending really would have shocked me if I didn’t know what was going on going in, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and am already looking forward to Riley Sager’s 2020 release.

Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 323
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told in two perspectives – one is from Theo, a psychotherapist who is interested in treating Alicia Berenson, a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. Theo believes he can get her to speak and finally shed some light on the tragedy, what happened, and whether Alicia is truly guilty of the crime. The second perspective is from Alicia, told through the journal entries she wrote recounting her life and relationship with her husband several months leading up to the incident.

My Thoughts: I went into this book pretty much completely blind to the synopsis, and I’m really glad I did. The first half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about ¾ of the way through the book, I had formed some theories, some of which turned out to be correct. I don’t consider myself a great mystery-solver, nor do I usually try to guess the endings of books, but for this one I just so happened to do so and unfortunately it did take some of the satisfaction out of it for me. I still think it’s a good thriller, and understand why so many people have read and loved it, but ultimately not my favorite of the month.

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd after her college experience didn’t quite go according to plan. She is dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his daughter, navigating the dark world of drugs and dangerous men that he can’t believe his daughter has been involved with.

My Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure why, but this book felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It could be because I’m unfamiliar with the author, or I’m unfamiliar with following a middle-aged man instead of a 20-something young woman, but something in the tone of this book I felt difficult to connect with, especially at the beginning. But I pushed through (thanks to the audiobook), and about halfway through things started clicking and I finally started to feel invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, thought the mystery was smart and well-revealed, and although I don’t think I found a new favorite author or thriller, am satisfied with the read.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 329
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows high-schooler Ellery as she and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge, a small town that their mother grew up in and their aunt went missing from at age 17. Soon after arrival, one of the teachers at the high school turns up dead and a public threat is made by an anonymous person that one of the homecoming queen nominees will be next, and the entire town is left fearing for the safety of themselves and everyone around them.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t have too much to say about this book… YA thrillers are not my favorite to begin with, and this one didn’t do anything particularly special to stand out in my mind. I wouldn’t say that anything about it was bad – I actually think the ending was pretty good – but the plot

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life. Although she doesn’t think she is in any immediate danger, she starts to question the motives of the individual running the study and wondering if the payment, although generous, is worth having her own morality scrutinized in such detail.

My Thoughts: I wanted to like this book, and for the first half I was intrigued by the unique format of the story, but ultimately I grew bored with it and found myself not caring what happened to the characters. I think that I’ll soon forget most of the details of the book, which to me is a big indicator that it didn’t resonate or impact me much at all.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 292
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a domestic thriller following several members of a neighborhood with lots of secrets. When one of the women turns up dead, everyone starts pointing fingers and wondering if they can trust their neighbors, friends, and even own family.

My Thoughts: Ugh… the more I think about this book, the more upset I get about it – 3 stars might be generous. I think the writing is good – Shari Lapena knows how to write in a way to keep you turning the pages – and the mystery is fairly well-crafted…. but there is just so much cheating and lying that it totally goes out of the realm of possibility for me. Not every married person is having an affair and has a burner phone, so it’s annoying when every character in a book is/does. It actually made the ending far less shocking to me, because every person was made out to look shady and had a motive for being the murderer.

Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This novel is about Luke Ellis, a young boy who is kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought to “The Institute,” a compound where several kids are being held captive and studied for their apparent telekinetic or telepathic abilities.

My Thoughts: Although the synopsis of this book sounds right up my alley, I was super disappointed by this book. I really didn’t get much of a thriller/horror vibe at all – much more of a dystopia/action-type book, but even so I found it to be pretty below average. Not only did I not feel any suspense or pull to the characters and their well-being, but I also found the plot as a whole to be unoriginal and the ending extremely unsatisfying.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 374
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is said to be “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith” – it follows a married couple who, 15 years into their relationship, gets bored and decides to start murdering people to keep their spark alive.  

My Thoughts: This thriller, although very well-loved in the book community, was just not for me. I found the first 300 pages just flat-out boring, and by the time things actually got interesting, it all happened and wrapped up way too quickly. I completely understand and agree with the comparison to Dexter – I personally didn’t enjoy that show either, so it’s clearly something with me not caring to watch/read from the serial killer’s perspective!

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 383
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about J, a boy who has been raised for his entire life in a single building along with 25 other boys without the knowledge or influence of the female gender. A couple of miles away, the very same experiment is being done on a set of 26 girls raised without ever coming into contact with a male. As the kids grow older, some of them start to ask questions and the experiment authorities start to fear failure of the experiment they’ve been working so long to keep intact.

My Thoughts: Again, the premise of this book sounds just like something I would love, but I found myself completely underwhelmed by the execution. I would not consider it to be a horror or thriller in any capacity, as there was no suspense or thrill in the entire first 300 pages. The last bit of the book, although action-packed, didn’t have me invested enough to care about the outcome.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 326
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This sci-fi book is all about memories. We follow two different individuals, the first being Barry, a New York City cop investigating a new disorder showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome, where sufferer’s minds are suddenly infiltrated by memories of entire lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually resort to killing themselves to make the false memories stop. The other main character is Helena, a researcher studying the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and working on a solution to allow those suffering to preserve memories to be revisited later, when memory loss causes them to forget the most precious people and moments in their lives.

My Thoughts: I love love love Blake Crouch’s sci-fi writing. I loved Dark Matter when I read it earlier this year, and I think I loved this one even more because of how much I enjoyed the characters themselves. I really appreciate how Blake Crouch’s plots and science elements are just enough to keep your mind reeling, but not too much so that you feel lost or stupid for not fully understanding (it is still fiction, after all). This book doesn’t necessarily have much more twists and turns, so I wouldn’t call it a mystery/thriller, but that’s not what I wanted out of it so I was completely satisfied with the story and complex journey that these characters were on. Highly recommend to fans of Dark Matter, highly don’t recommend to anyone who didn’t care for that book – I found them to be very similar in a lot of ways.

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 455
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows several different members of a community impacted by a school shooting. It dives into all of the characters’ (including the shooter himself) relationships, upbringings, and understandings of the world both before and after the incident, revealing insights and asking questions about humanity at its core.

My Thoughts: This is definitely a tough book to review because of its highly sensitive subject matter, but I have to say that I appreciate the intent of this book to show that everybody’s life is complex – whether you’re a popular kid, a well-established working adult, a loner, or someone in-between, everyone has highs and lows that no one else can possibly understand. With that, everyone – even a “monster” capable of shooting another human – has loved ones and redeeming human qualities, too. Not every issue is black and white, and not every person can be tagged as good or evil. Outside of the hard-hitting stuff, I found his book to be pretty entertaining but maybe a bit too long. It switches between character perspectives and timelines often, which was sometimes hard to keep straight, and I didn’t love the ending, but again it’s hard to say that this book is overall good or bad when its intent seems to be just to get you to think a little deeper about things you may judge prematurely.

Title: Through a Daughter’s Eyes
Author: Mary DeJong
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 123
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book goes back and forth between memories and written accounts of the author’s life watching her father battle cancer. It captures some of her happiest memories, playing basketball with her dad and playing at the park with her best friends, and some of her worst, getting the news that her dad has passed away and standing at her father’s funeral as a middle-school student.  

My Thoughts: Full disclosure, this is absolutely a biased review as I went to high school with the author of this book and know the community that was impacted by this loss. But with that, I think that this book is as emotional and powerful as it gets, even for being so short in length. I loved the format and getting the different timelines and perspectives and was totally immersed. I feel like after reading this book I’ve been given some new perspective on family and life and really appreciate that.


I’m extremely happy with the reading I got done in October, and I’m happy to say that I still feel motivated going into November – which is good, considering my ambitious November TBR. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books above or what your reading plans are for November – we’re getting down to crunch time for finishing everything we want by the end of the year!!


November 2019 TBR: Readathons on Readathons!

Man oh man, I thought I was setting myself up for a busy reading month in October (see my TBR here and get ready for my wrap-up on Friday!)… but when setting up my November reading schedule, I realized that November is going to be even crazier! There are a whole bunch of challenges and readathons I want to participate in, so the most logical way for me to get to everything is to organize my month by weeks and have a different theme/challenge/readathon to focus on for that week. I’m super excited for all of these titles and really hoping I can keep my motivation up to finish all of them. I’d love some encouragement (or… commiseration? 😊) so if any of you are planning on participating in these readathons too, please let me know!!

Week One (Nov. 1-8): Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees

The Goodreads Choice Awards are coming (I thought yesterday, but I guess I was wrong! But likely sometime in the next couple weeks), and I’d like to read all of the books nominated for the Mystery & Thriller category. I made some predictions earlier this week (see them here!) and I plan to spend the first week of November finishing off that list, as well as revising and reading the books that are ACTUALLY nominated once those come out. And, yes – this idea is heavily influenced by Booktuber Booksandlala – my queen. Can you blame me? The exact number of books I want to get to depends on how many of my predictions end up being correct… but my goal is somewhere between 3 and 5 books within the first 8 days of the month. Below are some that I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to!

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Although I haven’t read from this author before, I’ve seen several good things about him and this book floating around the bookternet. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be about a woman who starts to suspect her husband has something to do with an unsolved murder that happened in their town a couple of years ago.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

This latest release from Shari Lapena is, I believe, her 4th thriller, and so far I have read her first 2. Although neither have been 5 stars, I’m excited to give her another chance. I have heard that this book is about a small town in which everyone has secrets and wants to know everything about everyone else, but I don’t know much more of the plot than that!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This is a book that I certainly would not have planned to pick up had it not showed up in my research as a highly-rated, highly read thriller likely to be nominated for the GR Choice Awards. According to Goodreads, this book appears to follow two brothers trying to find out the truth about the death of their third brother.

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Again, another book and author I likely would not have discovered if not for being nominated for GR awards in the past. Like Shari Lapena’s, this book also seems to follow a small-town neighborhood made up of nosey individuals trying to uncover everyone’s secrets.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

This last one I’m not sure completely fits in the thriller category, as I’ve heard it more commonly described as a fantastical horror-type novel. But it has been extremely hyped, so nonetheless I’d love to read it even with the outside chance that it ends up as a nominee. I’m sure most people have heard of it, but the general plot seems to follow a group of young girls being held on an island as some kind of virus infects them and starts mutilating their bodies in horrific ways.

Week Two (Nov. 9-17): Tome Topple

This is a new-to-me readathon with the main focus being to read books with 500+ pages. The readathon is hosted by Booktuber Thoughts on Tomes – see her announcement video here for more details (including the actual dates of the readathon, which are the 9th to the 22nd!). I have several books on my owned TBR that fit this main goal, but I’d love to get to two or three within the nine days.

Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

This is the second book in the wildly popular Arc of a Scythe series, a dystopian series about humans living in a futuristic world where death no longer occurs naturally. Death only comes to those who are selected by scythes themselves, highly-respected members of society who are trained to glean a certain number of people every year as a means of population control. I absolutely loved Book 1 of this series (Scythe) and am very excited to finally get to Book 2 (Thunderhead) and then eventually to Book 3 (The Toll), which is being released on November 5th!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This is a book that I have seen so many great reviews for yet know so little about that I don’t even want to know the basic plot before starting it. As far as I know, it is a thriller with some pretty dark/messed up topics, and I’m so excited to dive into it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

On a very different note, Carry On is a novel said to be sort of a retelling of Harry Potter in which Harry and Draco end up in a relationship. It sounds fun and creative and I’ve seen so much love for this book floating around that even though it’s out of my comfort zone a little, I’m excited to give it a try.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

You may be sensing a theme here, but this is another beloved book in the online community that I want to experience for myself. This historical fiction novel is set in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl who becomes, quite literally, a book thief, stealing books and exposing herself to worlds outside of her own, potentially offering hope in a time and place that is so hopeless for her in real life.

Week Three (Nov. 18-24): Buzzwordathon

And then comes one of my favorite readathons, Buzzwordathon. This is hosted by Booktuber BooksandLala (mentioning her twice in one post, clearly she is my fav!) – see her announcement video for this round of the readathon here! This readathon always features a buzzword (or a set of buzzwords) with the goal being to read as many books with that word/those words in the title as possible. This round, she has announced the set of buzzwords to be numbers – any form of any number in the title counts. Again, I have several books on my owned TBR that fit, but I think three to four is a reasonable number to strive to complete within the week.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

At the top of my Buzzwordathon priority list is this post-apocalyptic novel about a group of Hollywood actors trying to survive civilization’s collapse.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

This is (I believe) a contemporary novel about nine strangers who are at a health resort and whose lives (I’m assuming) start to interweave. I’ve only read one other book by Liane Moriarty, and I’ve seen mixed reviews about most of her works. So this could be a great experience or a very bad one. Either way, I’m excited to get it off my TBR list!

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

This classic novel is set during WWII and follows an American bomber during his experiences overseas trying to stay alive and ultimately make his way back home. I think I’ve tried reading this book before and found it hard to get through, so I’m hoping this time my experience is a little better and a little easier, since this book is so iconic in literature.

Million-Dollar Throw by Jim Lupica

This book actually belongs to my husband… but because it sits on my shelf, I have a weird thing about wanting to actually read it so that I can eventually have read all of our owned titles. I have no idea what it’s about (other than football, obviously) or if I’ll like it, but it is fairly short so I should be able to easily knock it out!

Week Four (Nov. 25-30): Sci Fi Month

Lastly, it was brought to my attention that November is Sci Fi Month as denoted by blogger OneMore.org. This is definitely self-explanatory, but the focus of this reading challenge is to read as many Science Fiction novels and consume as much Sci Fi content (in any format – tv shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) throughout the month. Although I’d love to dedicate the entire month to that theme, I feel most comfortable committing the last week of the month catching up on any Sci Fi books I still have on my shelves by the end of the month. I’d love to finish two within the five days I’ve allotted.

Artemis by Andy Weir

I just recently got my hands on this book and am super excited to get into it. I loved Andy Weir’s most popular book, The Martian, and because this book looks to be pretty similar in the space/sciency realm, I’m hoping I enjoy it just as much.

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

This book is super intriguing, not only because of its hype on the internet but also because of the format of the book itself. It looks to be made up of mixed media: computer files, emails/messages, and other miscellaneous text types to make up a very uniquely-told sci fi story.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh

This book seems to be about a group of people leaving Earth for a new civilization and their experiences on the journey itself. I’ve heard that it’s suprisingly emotional, and I’m excited for that dynamic in a science fiction novel, as most tend to be more action-based than character-based.

And that is it for my (slightly crazy) November reading plans. For some, it might feel overly-structured, but for me it puts my mind at ease to have a little bit of a plan going in with some room for adjustment based on my mood any given week. Plus, this is possibly my last serious reading month of the year – in December I’m expecting to have a baby, and we all know that will seriously derail any reading plans I try to set for myself 😊

Again, I’d love to know who else is participating in any of these readathons or what your November reading plans are in general. Anyone else feel like they have a ton of books to cram in before the end of the year?


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Thriller Predictions

You know what time of the year it is…. Goodreads Choice Award time! If I’m not mistaken, I believe the nominees for the 2019 GR Choice Awards will be announced tomorrow, with multiple voting rounds going on until winners are announced in early December.

This year I thought it would be super fun to take a page out of Booksandlala‘s book (AKA my favorite Booktuber, check her out if like Booktube videos and somehow haven’t found her already!) and read all of the nominees in the Mystery & Thriller category.

However, me being me, I had to take it one step further and try to get a little head start by predicting the books that I think will be nominated and ultimately win the category. I wanted to release this list today, so that when nominees are announced tomorrow I can see how many I got correct and how many I missed 🙂

So read on if you’re interested in my predictions, my rationale for selecting them, and my ratings & rankings for the ones I have already read.

How the Awards Work

For those not familiar with the Goodreads Choice Awards in general, I thought I’d briefly explain the awards and voting schedule.

The Goodreads Choice Awards are a set of popular-vote book awards voted on by the users of the Goodreads app/website. The awards are separated by category, most of them being genre-related (Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, etc.), with some additional categories including Debut Author and Best of the Best. 2019 will be the 10th year of the awards, and the categories seem to change slightly from year-to-year. There are a number of rules for what books can be nominated for the awards, which I was easily able to find on the Goodreads website, but the major criteria are that the books must have been released between November 16, 2018 and November 15, 2019, books can be nominated for only one genre category, and opening round nominees must have an average rating of 3.5 or higher (although write-in votes can have any rating).

The Opening Round of the awards typically starts on the last Tuesday of October (this year will be tomorrow, October 29th) and lasts for 6 days. It consists of 15 nominees selected by Goodreads based on titles shelved under each category, average rating, and number of ratings. Voters can vote for any of the 15 nominees OR write in a vote for any book of their choosing.

The Semifinal Round begins the following Tuesday (November 5th this year) and lasts for 6 more days. It consists of the 15 original nominees plus the 5 most-written-in titles to make up a list of 20 nominees. Voters can vote for any of the 20 nominees on the list.

The Final Round of voting begins the following Tuesday (November 12th) and last for 14 days. This round consists of the top 10 nominees determined by the Semifinal Round. Voters can vote for any of these top 10 books.

And finally, the winners for each category of the Goodreads Choice Awards are announed on the first Tuesday of December, which this year falls on December 3rd.

My Mystery & Thriller Predictions

As I mentioned, the selection process for opening-round nominees is slightly unclear, but we do know it involves a book’s average rating, its number of total ratings, and the genre that it is shelved most commonly as. With this information, I went in and looked up all of the thrillers I could find and think of and listed them based on number of ratings. I also made sure to look at authors with books previously nominated for this award because repeat nominations (for authors with new books) is common. Filtering out books with an average rating of less than 3.5, below is my predicted Top 15/Opening Round nominees.

#TitleAuthor# of RatingsAvg RatingPub Date
1The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides148,9714.05Feb 2019
2VerityColleen Hoover61,4424.37Dec 2018
3An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen60,7053.85Jan 2019
4The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware35,6354.00Sep 2019
5RecursionBlake Crouch34,5454.21Jun 2019
6The Lost ManJane Harper33,7844.21Feb 2019
7Watching YouLisa Jewell31,7923.95Dec 2018
8My Lovely WifeSamantha Downing31,6013.92Mar 2019
9The InstituteStephen King27,6754.27Sep 2019
10Lock Every DoorRiley Sager26,2144.01Jul 2019
11Two Can Keep a SecretKaren M. McManus25,1693.98Jan 2019
12Run AwayHarlan Coben24,6504.08Mar 2019
13Before She Knew HimPeter Swanson20,1353.84Mar 2019
14The Last House GuestMegan Miranda17,1383.59Jun 2019
15The Night Olivia FellChristina McDonald12,1913.89Feb 2019

And some titles I think might come up as write-ins:

16Someone We KnowShari Lapena11,6583.98Jul 2019
17Wilder GirlsRory Power10,7143.66Jul 2019
18I Know Who You AreAlice Feeney9,8863.41May 2019
19The Night BeforeWendy Walker6,6163.69May 2019
20The Family UpstairsLisa Jewell4,0464.18Aug 2019
21The NannyGilly MacMillan3,2773.81Sep 2019
22InspectionJosh Malerman2,8593.45Mar 2019

My Pick/Ratings So Far

Of the 22 books I listed above, I have read 11. Below is my personal ranked list of these titles from my favorite to least favorite – tune into my October wrap-up in a couple of days for some more in-depth thoughts of almost all of them!

  1. Verity – Colleen Hoover – 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this book’s premise and execution – very suspenseful, great twist and ending!
  2. The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware – 5 stars
    Super atmospheric and suspenseful, enjoyed the mystery and characters, satisfying ending.
  3. Lock Every Door – Riley Sager – 4 stars
    Also super atmospheric and suspenseful, I enjoyed the reveals even though I spoiled this book for myself!
  4. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides – 3 stars
    Amazing premise, loved the format, first half of book was 5 stars but twist was predictable and ending unsatisfying.
  5. Run Away – Harlan Coben – 3 stars
    Took a while to get into, overall good mystery and satisfying ending.
  6. The Last House Guest – Megan Miranda – 3 stars
    Easy read, pretty good twist and reaveals, ultimately forgettable.
  7. Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManus – 3 stars
    Quick read, nothing outstanding, YA thrillers are generally not my favorite and this one followed that trend.
  8. An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – 3 stars
    Intriguing beginning but grew bored with the storyline, not surprised by the twists, not invested in the characters by the end.
  9. The Institute – Stephen King – 2 stars
    Very long, not suspenseful in my opinion, underwhelming ending.
  10. My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing – 2 stars
    Did not find the serial killer perspective interesting, not suspenseful at all, not invested in characters.
  11. Inspection – Josh Malerman – 2 stars
    Great premise but had some weird focuses/tangents, not suspenseful, action came too late in the story for me to feel invested.

But with that, my predicted winner is overwhelmingly The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Lala does a really great job in her video from last year explaining that the winner of these awards is almost never the book with the highest rating on the nominee list – it is usually the book with the most ratings – and The Silent Patient is far and away the most-rated book on the list. I can’t wait to find out if my predictions are correct!


I would love to hear some additional opinions on this topic – are you a fan of the Goodreads Choice Awards, do you have any predictions for nominees or winners, and have you read any of the books on my prediction list?

I plan to post some updates throughout the voting periods following the nominees and trying to read any that I have not yet read. Also let me know if you want to join me in that challenge!


Spookathon 2019 TBR

In my October TBR post, I announced that I want to read ALL THE THRILLERS this month 😊 okay, not all of them, but a lot of them. I had 10 on my initial list, and hoping to get to even more than that if I can.

What better time to participate in a spooky readathon to motivate me to keep chugging through that list? Below are the challenges created by Booktuber Booksandlala, who created and is hosting Spookathon from October 14th-20th. The overarching goal is to read as many thrillers as possible throughout that week, but there are 5 specific challenges to also hit:

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with red on the cover
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
  4. Read a book with a spooky setting
  5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read

My TBR right now consists of 3 books, which I can double up to make hit all of the challenges. I really like to go into my thrillers blind, so instead of any type of synopsis I’ll just share what I DO know about the books (if anything) and a short explanation on how they complete the challenges.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Challenges Hit: 1, 2, 3

I know close to nothing about this book, but have seen it floating around the bookternet enough for it to have made its way onto my TBR – bonus that it hits 3 challenges as a thriller with red words and the spooky word “secret” in the title!

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Challenges Hit: 1, 4

I am so excited to finally get to read this book! I have recently read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s other two thrillers and have heard that this one is even better. This takes place in a big, creepy apartment building, fulfilling the spooky setting challenge #4!

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Challenges Hit: 1, 5

This is the book I know the least about – I consider it to fill challenge #5 because this is an author I have never heard of and never would have picked up without having previously done research on books that have a chance to be nominated for Goodread’s Thriller category in about a month.


I’d love to know who else is participating in Spookathon this year and what’s on your TBR! Or, have you read any of these three books?


September 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I am loving fall so far and all the inspiration and motivation it’s giving me to keep reading 🙂 This month I read 11 books – while that’s not my highest of the year, I’m still very happy with that amount and really happy with the books themselves that I was able to complete! Without too much of an intro, let’s go ahead and get into the wrap-up!

This month’s quick stats:
11 books (3 audiobooks)
2,814 pages
9 authors (5 female)
2 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
77 books (15 audiobooks)
19,832 pages
73 authors (37 female)
23 nonfiction | 54 fiction

Title: Golden State
Author: Ben H. Winters
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Pages: 319
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book takes place in a futuristic society where lying is among the very worst crimes a person can commit. We follow Lazlo, a member of this society’s “Speculative Service,” as he enforces the laws requiring citizens to tell the truth at all times.

My Thoughts: This is a WILD ride of a book… at first it seems clearly dystopian, then it turns into sort of a mystery/thriller, and then it erupts into complete chaos. I didn’t know who was good and who was bad, who and what I was supposed to believe, and I CERTAINLY didn’t know what to expect from the ending. Not sure I’m completely satisfied with how it wrapped up, but it had/has my mind reeling, and I really enjoy that. Aside from the ever-twisting plot, I really enjoyed reading about the nuances of this society – for example, finding out that fiction books are outlawed because of their obvious deviation from the true world, and that sarcasm is considered okay as long as all parties understand that the speaker isn’t deliberately trying to mislead the listener. Overall a great read, and I fully recommend to fans of dystopias, science fictions, and government conspiracies.

Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead
Author: Dale Neal
Genre: Metaphysical Thriller (?)
Pages: 250, DNF’d at 100
My Rating: 1 star
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
An ARC of this book was provided to me by SFK press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are my own and are given voluntarily!

Brief Summary: This book has been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” as it starts out by telling the story of an outlaw escaping prison and disappearing into the woods in South Carolina, murdering the unlucky few who get in his way. The book then follows several different individuals living in the near vicinity, paranoid by the news of this escaped convict but otherwise trying to live their lives.

My Thoughts: I just could not get into this one… I was confused about the tone and vibe of the writing – very slow-paced and ominous, but no clear plot – and I didn’t care about or connect to ANY of the characters. I unfortunately DNF’d after 100 pages, which is something I have a really hard time doing, but my reading experience was that bad.

Title: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office
Author: Lois P. Frankel
Genre: Female Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book highlights “101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers,” and then offers advice and solutions to stopping them.

My Thoughts: The format of this book was enjoyable – each of the 101 sections/tips were short enough to easily digest, and it offered plenty of convenient stopping points for reading this book in small chunks. Most of the advice was pretty generic, but overall good. Some of it started to rub me the wrong way, however – her advice to women “with thin skin” and who find themselves getting overly emotional at work is to just “get over it”… really? That along with a few of the sections on personal appearance felt way over-simplified and a little outdated. Overall not life-changing, and I will not be re-reading or recommending in the future, but there are some helpful nuggets if the reader is open to some tough love.

Title: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Author: Alexandra Robbins
Genre: Miscellaneous
Pages: 448
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book explores “quirk theory,” or the idea that quirks and things that usually make us feel excluded early in life (like in high school) are exactly the traits that make us unique and successful later in life. The book follows seven individuals from different locations in the U.S. throughout one school year, going in-depth to their feelings and experiences – particularly how their quirks make them feel in relation to their peers and if there is anything they wish they could change about themselves or their situations. The book alternates between their stories and the author’s expression of different social theories, how they apply to each individual, and what it means for us as the readers and society as a whole.

My Thoughts: This book is really hard to summarize in just a few sentences because of just how in-depth it goes to each of the followed individuals’ lives, plus we get constant commentary from the author relating everything back to different psychological and social theories. It was really, really interesting, plus the seven different storylines made it feel like reading a fictional novel. I enjoyed seeing how each of the individuals’ lives played out, and I think I gained some insight and confidence that my own quirks should be celebrated and honed, not ignored. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to high-schoolers or any individuals who are struggling with feeling excluded from their peers.

Title: The Last House Guest
Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller follows Avery, a young, 20-something woman living in Littleport, Maine and working as a property manager for some of the vacation homes. It follows two timelines, the first being the summer of 2017 when Avery’s best friend Sadie is found dead in the water near her family’s vacation home, and the police are questioning everyone near to her to find out whether it was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. The other timeline is one year later, as Avery is dealing with the closing of Sadie’s case and wondering whether the police might have gotten it wrong.

My Thoughts: As an audiobook, I generally enjoyed this story. The setting of Maine gave it a great small-town, beachy vibe that was both fun and a little creepy. I can’t say that anything in the story was particularly great or terrible – a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. I didn’t predict the ending, but that’s not usually my strength or my goal when reading thrillers. I love to just absorb the story and twists as they come – but some reviews I’ve seen say that the twists were obvious, and veteran thriller readers may find this story unsatisfying. If you’re a fan of Megan Miranda, I think this one is worth a try, but if you require huge plot twists or over-the-top storylines, you may want to skip this one.

Title: The Art of Fielding
Author: Chad Harbach
Genre: Sports/Contemporary
Pages: 512
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book mainly follows the players on a midwestern collegiate baseball team throughout the senior year of team leader Mike Schwartz and junior year of talent standout Henry Skrimshander. Although baseball takes up a majority of their time, and therefore makes up a lot of the book’s plotline, the characters also deal with plenty of other issues including plummeting self-esteem, messy relationships, and uncertainty about the future.

My Thoughts: Whew… this book. There is so much more than meets the eye. First of all, I will say that although this book centers heavily around baseball, I do not think you have to be a sports fan in order to enjoy it. But if you ARE a baseball fan, you will enjoy it that much more. These characters are SUPER complex and the story is long enough that we get very intimate with their thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and uncertainties, which I think makes the story extremely relatable and easy to become invested in. Since my husband was the one who originally recommended this book to me, I think I can safely recommend it to both men and women – anyone who is looking to dive into an emotional story with lots of ups and downs, not unlike what we all go through in life in general.

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy
Pages:418
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This fantasy novel follows Karou, a college student who spends half of her life in the human world, attending art classes and struggling with a nagging ex-boyfriend, and half of her life in a fantastical world, running errands for her part-human-part-animal father figure and receiving wishes in return – one of which she used to have her hair permanently grow in a bright blue color. She doesn’t know much about this other world, or her own past for that matter, and suddenly things start happening in and around this fantastical world that cause her to start questioning more deeply, which ends up putting her in danger and leaving her wondering if she should abandon the other world to live safely as a human, or risk everything to get the answers she’s been looking for.

My Thoughts: I’ll start out by saying I am NOT a fantasy reader. I prefer my fiction realistic, but I have seen this book and Laini Taylor often highly rated and recommended by members of the book community, so I decided to give it a try – and I really enjoyed it! I appreciated that I could still identify with the main character as a person (not just a mysterious magical being), and the fantastical world/magic system was complex enough to make for a compelling and satisfying story while also staying simple enough that I could follow and understand it all. I enjoyed the entire story, including the ending, and although I don’t think I will be continuing with this series nor will I only be reading fantasy from now on, I’m glad that I branched out and overall enjoyed my reading experience with this one. 

Title: Maybe in Another Life
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 342
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book starts with main character Hannah moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles after several years moving from city to city, job to job. On one of her first nights back, she is confronted with a turning-point decision: go home with her best friend after a night of drinking and dancing, or stay out with an old fling possibly wanting to rekindle their romance? The story then splits into two alternate realities, following Hannah as she lives out her life based on the two possible outcomes of this decision.

My Thoughts: I think the concept of alternate realities is really interesting, and I loved reading about both possible outcomes and the compounding effect of one seemingly simple and trivial decision in the main character’s life. It really makes you think about all of the pivotal decisions in your own life and where you might be had you chosen a different path (which I guess is equally exciting and terrifying, depending on your personal outlook). I don’t think any of these characters were overly compelling, and this is not my favorite TJR book to date, but it was a thought-provoking page-turner of a book and I was ultimately left extremely satisfied after reading it.

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 339
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Quincy, a woman who is twelve years removed from a traumatic life event where she was the sole survivor of a mass murder in a cabin in the woods. This puts her in a very small and exclusive group of women known to the press as “final girls,” something she shares with only two other women in the country. When one of the other final girls is found dead having committed suicide, and the other shows up suddenly at Quincy’s doorstep, Quincy is forced to dig up old memories and emotions she’d been repressing in an attempt to form a normal life after such an abnormal past.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this as my first Riley Sager read. The idea of uniting sole survivors from mass murders into this kind of “final girls club” is really intriguing, and that was enough to pull me through the first half of this book, which has very little thrill/mystery to it other than the backstories of all of the final girls. Once the twists and mysteries of the present time are revealed, it becomes more of your typical thriller and although it includes one of my least favorite plot devices – women with memory problems – I still enjoyed the ride and didn’t predict any part of the ending. So far I see why the Riley Sager hype is there and I’m excited to get to his subsequent books!

Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: In this book, a couple that has been married for 9 years finds themselves in a rut in their relationship – they are constantly fighting, resent each other over small things, and are just generally unhappy being together. They decide to take a one-year break from their marriage, during which they are free to explore other people and relationships and are not allowed to contact each other in any way. The goal is for each of them to re-evaluate the relationship and decide if they want to fight for their marriage or go their separate ways for good.

My Thoughts: As someone who is married, a lot of the elements of this book hit close to home – it’s super common for small, nitpicky items to add up and boil over into a huge fight if you can’t communicate before it gets to that point, and it’s definitely difficult to learn to love the other person past the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Other than the interesting ways this couple chose to deal with their issues, I didn’t find myself super invested in the relationship and rooting for one outcome or the other. The couple is very average – which is what they’re supposed to be – but it made the overall story kind of boring and forgettable.

Title: One True Loves
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Emma, a young woman who is celebrating her engagement to a man named Sam when she suddenly gets a phone call from her previous husband, Jesse, who has been presumed dead for 3 years. With this revelation that Jesse is still alive, Emma is caught in between her feelings for both men and wondering if it’s possible to love two people at the same time.

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are so unique and I always find the plots super interesting to think about. I mean, nobody can imagine losing the love of their life early and having to move on to another relationship only to find out that the first person is still alive. However, with this book I just didn’t feel like I had enough time with the characters to be fully invested in any relationship. The story flips back and forth between current-day Emma and Sam, current-day Emma and Jesse, high-school Emma and Sam, and high-school Emma and Jesse – which are all relationships with completely different dynamics that make it really hard to sink your teeth into one before you’re whisked into another.


As I said in my October TBR, I am sooo excited to get to reading allll the thrillers this upcoming month. Let me know what you read in September and what you have planned for October!


October 2019 TBR | Reading the Most-Hyped Thrillers of the Year

October is almost here! Bring on the spooky décor, costume parties, and THRILLERS 😊 I’ve had a great start to fall so far and am super excited for Halloween and the holiday season coming up. In October, I definitely will be getting my thriller fix when it comes to reading, as my plan is to read some of the most-hyped thrillers that have come out this year!

In preparation for this TBR, I went onto Goodreads and made an Excel list of all of the thrillers I can think of with their respective ratings and number of ratings. Because I want to read the most-hyped books, I ordered them in order of NUMBER of ratings so that I know these have been the most-read out of all thrillers I could find or think of.

Most of these books I am planning on checking out from my library or listening to on Scribd – because of that, I’m not 100% sure which books I’ll have access to at any given time during the month, so my goal is to read 7 of the 10 listed below.

And lastly before getting into it, because these are all thriller/mystery books, I want to go into reading them without much knowledge of the plot so that I can be fully surprised by all of the twists and turns. Because of that, I don’t have any sort of synopsis to share for any of them! All I know is that lots of people have read and enjoyed them 😊

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

134,155 Ratings

4.05 Average Rating

Verity by Colleen Hoover

57,836 Ratings

4.38 Average Rating

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

57,621 Ratings

3.85 Average Rating

Recursion by Blake Crouch

29,581 Ratings

4.22 Average Rating

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

28,937 Ratings

3.93 Average Rating

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

24,042 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

23,657 Ratings

3.98 Average Rating

Run Away by Harlan Coben

23,000 Ratings

4.08 Average Rating

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

21,627 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

19,100 Ratings

3.84 Average Rating

If you love thrillers… PLEASE let me know which ones of these you have read and what has been your favorite! Also, let me know if there are any thrillers you think are missing from my list 🙂

Happy reading!


Contemporaryathon TBR | September 2019

Well, well… better late than never when it comes to planning a readathon TBR, am I right? I’ve decided to partake in this month’s round of Contemporaryathon (a week-long readathon hosted by I think 4 different Booktubers) mainly because I can fit the challenges in with a few books I’m already planning to read by the end of this month!

Contemporaryathon starts TODAY and goes through this Sunday, September 29th. Still time to join in if you’re interested! Here is a link to one of the announcement videos, in which you can go deeper into the challenges, get some recommendations, and be linked to the three other co-hosts.

Contemporaryathon Round 5 Challenges

  1. Read a 2019 release
  2. Read a book with yellow on the cover
  3. Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences
  4. Read a book with an illustrated cover
  5. Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline
  6. Read a book with plants on the cover
  7. Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community (plus shout them out!)

The rules of this readathon are pretty relaxed – the only real requirement is to read “contemporary” books, which in itself can even be up for interpretation – but essentially any book without any speculative or fantastical elements. You can choose to follow none or all of the challenges, and you are free to double- (or triple- or quadruple-…) up on challenges if you find books that hit multiple!

My Contemporaryathon TBR

I’m choosing to keep my TBR fairly attainable this week with 3 books. I did manage to get these to cover all 7 challenges, thanks to one book that actually hits 4 of them. See below for the books I chose and what challenges they each fulfill!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended and lent to me by my mother-in-law, which is a big reason I’m trying to prioritize it. Nothing I hate more than borrowing something from someone and accidentally never returning it!

Challenges Covered:
2 – Read a book with yellow on the cover
5 – Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline – I believe this book is all about a school shooting – a highly sensitive topic that I’m sure will be VERY hard-hitting and emotional. I wouldn’t be surprised if I shed a few tears…


One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

On top of helping me fulfill one last contemporaryathon challenge, this book will also round out my goal to read all of TJR’s books. Be on the look out for a post likely early next year ranking all of them!

Challenges Covered:
6 – Read a book with plants on the cover


Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I was not originally planning on reading this book this month… but things just kind of worked out – it fulfills 4 readathon challenges, was available immediately at my library, and WAS on my someday TBR – so I’m glad to knock it out!

Challenges Covered:
1 – Read a 2019 release
3 – Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences – this book features a male-male romance. Not only is that not something that I have experienced in my life (obviously, as a woman), but it’s also not something I think I’ve ever read in a book before!
4 – Read a book with an illustrated cover
7 – Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community – This is extra fitting as this book is HIGHLY beloved by ChelseaDollingreads, one of my favorite Booktubers, one of the hosts of this readathon, and who I would consider to be one of the biggest consumers of the contemporary genre – if she recommends a contemporary, I expect it to be one of the best of its genre!


That’s it – like I said, keeping it reasonable this week! I’d love to know if you’re participating in Contemporaryathon this round and what you’re reading – if you’re not, let me know what you’re planning on reading the rest of September regardless!


DIY Floating Bookshelves

Today I want to branch out into something a little different for my blog – DIYs. Making things for myself and others, whether it be custom t-shirts, home décor, or miscellaneous arts & crafts, is something I have always loved to do and is definitely one of the biggest ways I find I can express myself creatively. Most of my ideas are inspired by other DIYers (s/o to Pinterest), but I figured I might as well document and share my own process off in hopes that it might inspire someone else to try making something themselves that they’d otherwise go out and purchase!

My first project was something I’d been envisioning in my home office since we bought our new house in April: wall-to-wall floating bookshelves. When I originally expressed this idea to my husband, he had a few concerns including the strength of the shelves – these are intended to hold books, after all, which are not exactly light. So I went ahead and did my research, found this helpful blog post from a couple making heavy-duty floating shelves for their kitchen, and modified it to fit my space and my needs. Below are the materials we used, steps we followed, and some pictures of the process!

Step 1: Determine Sizing and Location of Shelves

Originally, my idea was to have wall-to-wall, extra-thin floating shelves, as I thought this would be the most aesthetically pleasing. However, it didn’t take long to realize that logistically this wasn’t the best idea –  for a couple of reasons:

  • Plywood comes in 8-foot sheets. Anything longer and I wouldn’t get the seamless look I was going for across the front of the shelves, so we opted for 8-ft long shelves. This would leave a little space between the edge of the shelves and the edge of the wall (because my wall is 9.5 feet long), but would make the building process easier and the end product nice and seamless.
  • These shelves are intended to hold books – a lot of them. If I wanted them to be floating, they’d need to be much more than an inch thick or I’d risk them falling (or ripping) off of the wall. We decided on 4 inches of thickness as enough to hold all of my books and keep the building process relatively simple, because I could still use 2x4s and plywood as my materials. (Again, this idea was reinforced by this blog post, as they used 2x4s and plywood and used their shelves to hold kitchenware!)

With these decisions made, I used strips of painter’s tape to mark out each shelf out on my wall and make sure I liked the size and spacing of the shelves in my room. I highly recommend this step if you’re making any sort of large-scale shelves or other statement piece (like a gallery wall with picture frames, for example) because this gives you flexibility to move things around before you do any building or drilling into the wall! If the sizing or spacing looks off, you can adjust your plans accordingly.

Step 2: Find Studs and Design Wall Support Frame

The most common method for building and installing floating shelves is to do it in two parts: first, you have a “wall support frame” that mounts directly onto your wall first and consists of one long back piece and several smaller perpendicular supports you need to give your shelf strength and rigidity. Then, you have an “outer box” that slides nicely over the support frame and gives your shelves a clean, floating appearance. This next step is all about designing and building your wall support frame.

Wall Support Frame substeps:

  • Locate all of the studs on your wall that will intersect with your shelves. Mark them as a “mount to wall” location on the wall and copy the measurements onto a piece of paper. I went ahead and marked every single stud location that I found so that my shelves would have as much wall support as possible.
    • I ended up with 6 stud locations approximately 16 inches apart (which I believe is standard stud spacing, but always good to double-check with a stud finder!)
  • In between each of these “mount to wall” locations, determine where you want your perpendicular supports to extend out from the wall, and how far. It’s very important that these are between the “mount to wall” locations – if you overlap them, you won’t be able to drill into the wall into the stud because there will be a 2×4 in your way.
    • I decided to have 7 perpendicular supports: one directly in the middle of each of the “mount to wall” locations (five of those), and one on each end of the shelves.
    • I also decided to make these supports 8 inches long, which when added to the 1.5” back piece made my shelves stick out about 9.5 inches from the wall. How deep you want your shelves to be depends on what you plan on using them for!

Step 3: Design Outer Box

Again, the outer box is the piece that slides nicely over your wall support frame to hide all of the mounting bracketry and give your shelf a nice seamless, floating appearance. We decided to make ours completely out of ¼” plywood.

To design your outer box, you will need to determine three different sets of dimensions:

  • Top & bottom pieces – determined by the overall depth and length of your shelves.
    • Mine are 9.5 inches deep by 8 feet long.
  • Left & right side pieces – determined by the depth of your shelves and the height/thickeness of your perpendicular supports.
    • Mine are 9.5 inches deep by 4 inches tall.
  • Front side dimensions – determined by the height and length of your shelves.
    • Mine is 4 inches tall by 8 feet long.

Step 4: Buy Materials

With all of the sizing and measurements planned out, it’s finally time to go to the hardware store and buy your materials!

We ended up buying the following materials for TWO shelves:

  • 1 – 1/4″x4’x8′ sheet of plywood cut to the following sizes:
    • 4 – 9.5″x8′ (top and bottom pieces of outer boxes)
    • 2 – 4″x8′ (front pieces of outer boxes)
  • 1 – 1/4″x2’x2′ sheet of plywood cut into:
    • 4 – 9.5″x4″ (side pieces of outer boxes)
  • 2 – 2″x4″x8′ boards (back piece of wall support frames)
  • 2 – 2″x4″x8′ boards cut to the following sizes:
    • 14 – 2″x4″x8″ (perpendicular pieces of wall support frames)
  • 24 metal L-brackets
  • Small, medium, and large screws
  • Wood filler
  • 1 quart – gray paint (can also use stain or paint in any color)

Step 5: Build Your Shelves

I think the photos above are the most helpful for seeing how to assemble everything, but some notes on how I built these shelves:

  • For the wall support frame, we screwed the perpendicular support pieces directly to the back support piece with at least two medium-sized screws each, plus added two L-brackets to each perpendicular support. This isn’t necessarily required, but the L-brackets added some peace-of-mind that the perpendicular supports wouldn’t disconnect from the back support piece.
  • Also when assembling the wall support frame, we marked right on the wood where all of the “mount to wall” locations (or stud locations) would fall on the shelf. This will help remind you to keep those spots clear of perpendicular supports and L-brackets, but also will come in handy for mounting.
  • For the outer box, originally we were planning on leaving the inside completely open to slide over the support frame, but because the shelves are so long the plywood started bowing and becoming hard to work with. We just used some scrap pieces of wood to add some rigidity to the inside of the box in locations that wouldn’t interfere with the perpendicular supports.

Step 6: Mount Your Shelves

To mount your wall support frame, have one person hold the shelves level on the wall while another uses the “mount to wall” locations marked on your shelves to drill your support frame directly to the wall. We used three of the largest screws we could find per mounting location so that there was no risk of it ripping out from the wall.

Once your support frames are mounted, slide your outer boxes over the perpendicular supports and push them all the way until touching the wall. Then I recommend using some small screws to fasten the outer box to the support frame in a few locations so that it doesn’t slide itself out over time.

And that’s it! For us this was definitely a big project, but we had very few mistakes or road bumps thanks to all of our planning beforehand. I definitely think it pays off to take your time, double- and triple-check your measurements, and have a helping hand available (thanks, husband)!

This being my first DIY post, there’s a great chance that I missed a step or wasn’t very clear about something – please comment with any questions that I can answer or help clarify! I’m excited to keep doing projects and share my steps with the internet to hopefully help or inspire someone else to try their own DIYs. Let me know if you have any projects on your radar or if you’re more of a buyer than a DIYer!


August 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I started out my September TBR post last week by saying how excited I am for it to be September and all of the exciting things I have to look forward to this fall! I’m sure I’m not alone in that love for fall activities and cozy fall weather – but August has definitely been a whirlwind, trying to cherish these last bits of summer while I still have them.

For those reasons, August was a bit of a slower reading month, and I only have 7 books to wrap up (4 of them were actually audiobooks, so that’s really telling of my reading habits!), but still a good reading month in itself and I definitely found some great reads to recommend. As usual, my reading stats and then mini-reviews for each book are below!

This month’s reading stats:
7 books (4 audiobooks)
1,171 pages
7 authors (4 female)
1 nonfiction | 6 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
66 books (12 audiobooks)
17,018 pages
61 authors (34 female)
21 nonfiction | 45 fiction

Title: Swapping Purples for Yellows
Author: Matthew Duffus
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 285
My Rating: 4 stars
This ARC was provided to me for free by SFK Press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are completely my own and are posted on my own accord!

Brief Summary: This book follows the Sutherlands, your typical middle-class family with plenty of drama but trying to hold it together, if not for their own sakes but for everyone else’s. Alternating between Rob, the father and professor at the local university, Molly, the mother struggling with her identity and gambling issues, and their two teenage daughters, this slice-of-life story dives into each character’s thoughts, feelings, and problems over the course of an action-packed weekend.

My Thoughts: At the very least, I thought this was an entertaining slice-of-life story in which readers can find at least one character to relate to. At the most, though, I think this story is a real teacher of empathy and reminder that you never really know what is going on behind-the-scenes of someone else’s life. With the length of this story only spanning three days, you get such an in-depth view to all of the characters’ perspectives and nuanced situations that you can’t help but root for all of them and none of them at the same time. Do I think this book had such a profound message that I’ll be thinking about it every day for months to come? No, but I can appreciate a story that gets me out of my own head and into the shoes of a person/family with a life as complex as mine.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This is a very popular contemporary novel that features an enemies-to-lovers romance plotline. Olive and Ethan are the maid of honor and best man in a wedding where every single OTHER person – including the bride and groom – gets food poisoning and becomes violently ill. Because of the illness, the bride and groom cannot attend their non-refundable honeymoon, so Olive and Ethan step up to redeem the trip – even though they hate each other.

My Thoughts: Like I said, this book is super popular and I’ve seen it hyped everywhere on the bookternet, and I wanted to love it. I actually think that if I watched this book as a movie, I’d love the light-hearted cheesiness of it, and I’d appreciate that it only took up an hour and a half of my time. But I listened to the 10-ish hour audiobook instead, and it just felt like a waste of my time. If you love rom-com books and are looking for a light summer read, this probably would be right up your alley! I just didn’t find anything great about it. Plus – I’ve lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which is where these characters are from, and at first I thought it was cool hearing them mention places I know and have been to myself. But I don’t know, when the audiobook narrator mispronounces Mankato and Menards… it loses its charm pretty quick. Overall just not my cup of tea, and I will probably steer clear of rom-com books like this one in the future.  

Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 558
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book, probably intended for a middle-grade audience, is a dystopia that follows a group of kids all under the age of 15 after every single adult instantaneously disappears. Nobody knows why it happened, where they went, or what they are supposed to do now that the kids are completely on their own.  

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before, but there is a special place in my heart for dystopias, no matter who they are intended for. I really loved the focus on kids in this one – no adult characters for us to follow even if we wanted to. The story was super intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I was disappointed in the middle and ending though – absolutely zero questions were answered. There are something like 5 more books in the series, each of them probably consisting of 500+ pages, and I just don’t want to have to read all of them to get to the bottom of the mysteries uncovered here. So I will not be continuing, but I would recommend this book to any dystopia-lovers ready to dive into the whole, long series.

Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 328
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This contemporary novel alternates between perspectives of teacher/tutor, Anna, and student, T.J., the two victims of a tiny plane crash between islands in the Maldives on the way to T.J.’s family’s vacation home for the summer. When their pilot has a heart attack and dies on the way down, Anna and T.J. land in the water alone and eventually wash up onto shore with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. As they struggle to live on the island until the authorities can locate them, their relationship becomes possibly the most important factor in their survival.

My Thoughts: This is the second novel I’ve read by Tracey Garvis Graves (first was The Girl He Used to Know), and my second 5-star rating. I just love her books – her character development is amazing and I always end up caring so deeply for both characters in the relationship despite all of the flaws they inevitably have. This story particularly is also incredibly suspenseful – I spent every page wondering if Anna & T.J. were going to survive, and if they did, what was going to happen to their relationship. Can’t wait to keep on reading TGG’s books.

Title: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
Author: Kerry Patterson, et. al.
Genre: Business/Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is a non-fiction guide to identifying the vital behaviors that lead to any rapid and profound change, whether in an individual or organization. It teaches how to apply strategies for changing both thoughts and actions, making change not only possible, but inevitable.

My Thoughts: I always enjoy self-help-type books that offer real stories and case studies showing how the strategies being highlighted actually work in the real world, and this book definitely had a lot of that. I thought the information was simple and clear and presented in a helpful way. Definitely recommend to anyone looking to make changes happen on an individual or organizational basis.

Title: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about Elsie, a young woman whose husband is suddenly killed after only two weeks of being married. After his death, Elsie has to deal not only with her grief, but also with getting to know her mother-in-law who never even knew her son was in a relationship – let alone married. We alternate between reading about the early stages of Elsie and Ben’s relationship and Elsie’s present-day struggles.

My Thoughts: This book was HARD to rate! On one hand, it’s a really nice love story that we get to see develop between Elsie and Ben. But then we are constantly thrust back into the tragedy of his death, and those sections are really, really hard to read. Ultimately I think the fact that this book made me feel so much is a testament to the storytelling and writing, so it deserves a good rating – but readers should definitely know going in that the story is extremely sad.

Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsey Faye
Genre: Classic Retelling
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre, centered around a character named Jane Steele. Though her life and personality are like Jane Eyre in many ways, there is one major difference – Jane Steele is a serial killer.

My Thoughts: I had some mixed feelings about this one. The things that I liked include the fact that Jane Steele is a fan of Jane Eyre, and even references the classic novel several times throughout the book. I thought it was a clever way to incorporate the old story and help me relate to the main character with our mutual enjoyment of Jane Eyre. I also ultimately enjoyed the story of Jane Steele’s life and particularly liked the ending. However, for a non-classic, I thought this book really dragged on. One of the benefits of being a classic retelling, in my opinion, is the option to keep the interesting parts/themes of an old story but take out all of the wordiness and unnecessary description that classics are known for. Also, I thought that the fact that Jane Steele was a serial killer ended up being a much less exciting and prominent part of the story than I expected. Some people may find that to be a positive, since there are many other key plot points that make the story unique, but it’s used as such an attention-grabber that I just expected it to be more of the focus. I still would recommend this story for lovers of Jane Eyre, but anyone else may want to skip it!


Let me know if you have read any of these books, if they are on your TBR, or what you are planning on reading this fall!


September TBR: Catching Up on my Physical TBR

Hello, September! And with that, hello FALL!

I have many reasons to be excited for fall this year – we live in a new state that should (hopefully) be warmer than the North Dakota/Minnesota falls I’m used to (glorified winters), I’m planning on attending LOTS of football games ranging from middle-school level all the way up to a couple of NFL games, and best of all, we’re having a baby around the end of November/early December!!

With all of this busy-ness happening in real life, I’m finding myself with much less time to devote to reading, and I don’t want to commit to a bunch of new books within a fun theme that I’ll inevitably fail to read and then feel indebted to for months to come (foreshadowing August’s wrap-up a little bit…)

So instead, I’m committing to September as a catch-up month for my physical TBR. Here’s a list of 12 books that I own physically and are my highest priority to finally get to. Some of them you may recognize from past TBRs, some are newish to me and I’m too excited to wait to get to, and some I have been pushing off but I really just need to finish them off. Let me know if you have a backlist of TBR books you’re still hoping to get to this year, and if any of you are joining me in making September a catch-up month!

Bonus – for the next 3-ish days, Jana at Reviews from the Stacks is running a giveaway on her blog to celebrate hitting her Goodreads reading goal! Definitely give her blog some love and enter the giveaway by commenting on her post here if you’re interested in winning a gift card!


My one ARC

Appalachain Book of the Dead by Dale Neal

Why I want to read it: This book comes out on September 3rd, and as usual with ARCS I’d love to get a review out on Goodreads and Amazon on or before that date. I’ve started this book already and have about 190 pages left – my opinion is still very much up in the air!

Brief Summary: This is a fictional book that’s been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” following many characters in the middle of nowhere questioning the location of a killer on the loose.

Books that have been on my bookshelf for FAR too long

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Why I want to read it: This is a book that has been recommended to me many times by my husband. It’s a hefty book based on sports, but I’m optimistic and excited to finally get into it.

Brief Summary: This fictional story follows members of a collegiate baseball team and other members of the college as their lives entertwine throughout the baseball season.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Why I want to read it: Leftover from my July (Reading Rush) TBR, this is one book I’m surprised I haven’t read yet. I read and enjoyed Outliers and am sure this one by Malcolm Gladwell will be worthwhile.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book centers around the magical moment when a small idea or behavior crosses a threshold and becomes a massive phenomenon – how we can recognize that point and use it to our advantage in personal and business settings.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson

Why I want to read it: As did probably everyone else, I read this book in middle school and have very fond memories. I’d love to reread this one since it’ll be a short, easy read.

Brief Summary: Brian is a young boy and the sole passenger on a small plane when the pilot has a heart attack and the plane crashes. Suddenly Brian finds himself completely alone in the woods with nothing but a hatchet to survive.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Why I want to read it: I bought this one last year as a recommendation from one of my favorite lifestyle/family bloggers, Jordan Page. Hoping it’s not too problematic and actually offers some good marriage advice.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book suggests that wives play a huge role in ensuring a successful marriage and offers the advice needed to nurture and feed their husbands accordingly.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Why I want to read it: I bought this one on a whim from Barnes & Noble a while ago and it’s been taunting me from my shelves ever since. I have consistently found other books to knock it out of my priority list, but finally getting this one read will feel like a big accomplishment.

Brief Summary: I don’t know much about the plot of this book and actually don’t want to – but I believe it follows several different adults, couples, and families and how their lives entertwine.

A couple of thrillers by an author I’m dying to get to

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: I haven’t read any Riley Sager yet, but obviously the bookternet loves his thrillers. I’m very excited to give this debut novel a try and make my way through all of his books!

Brief Summary: All that I really know about this one is that it centers around the idea of the “final girls” or sole survivors of horror movies.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: Ditto. I’m also excited because both of these books are on Scribd, so could be easy audiobooks to squeeze in.

Brief Summary: Again, I know nothing about the plot of this book and would love to keep it that way!

August books I just didn’t get to

Golden State by Ben Winters

Why I want to read it: Plain and simple, this book looks right up my alley and I’m expecting to love it!

Brief Summary: This book is a science-fiction, alternate reality story based in a California-like society.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

Why I want to read it: Started this one, really liked the intro and the format the book takes, very interested to see what other points it makes.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book studies quirk theory, or the reason why some individuals are outcasted in school settings but just may be more set up for success in the future.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Why I want to read it: No strong pull to the story itself, but I’m very interested in this non-Harry-Potter JK Rowling read.

Brief Summary: This mystery/thriller is about a mysterious death in a small town – classic.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Why I want to read it: Fantasy is very outside of my comfort zone, so that’s why this one has been slipping for me. Not sure if I’ll end up loving it or hating it, but I’m willing to give it a try!

Brief Summary: I believe this is some sort of Romeo and Juliet-inspired fantasy story.